Collaboration - Empowerment - Capacity-building

Welcome to the RAISE e-news letter, designed to identify and share resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.

Executive Editor: Peg Kinsell

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In This Issue

RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the TA provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.

RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between the nation's two Parent Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and the seven Regional PTACs.

Find your Parent Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)


"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they have been given than to explore the power they have to change it.
Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion.
Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare.
Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary.
Impossible is nothing."

- Muhammad Ali 

Nick Brown is a young entrepreneur who owns his own lawn-care business. Listen to how technology helped him start, and run his business.

Adaptive Clothing       

We all know that body language is a form of communication. Clothing is part of that language, and for the jobseeker, dressing the part sends a strong message. According to the jobseekers website,, it is vital to dress the part when interviewing to show that "you care about this job, and that you know the game."

Easier said than done, for those with a disability - in fact, just the mechanical aspects of getting dressed can present a significant challenge for people with disabilities and their caregivers. Researchers from the University of Missouri looked at the relationship between clothing and marginalization for people with disabilities. They found that the lack of affordable, accessible clothing created barriers for people in several ways:

Mechanical Issues: Zippers, buttons, shoelaces and fabric texture often present challenges for those who live independently. For some, such as those with Down syndrome, the challenge is finding a right fit, due to a mismatch between the individual's own body proportions and clothing industry sizing.

Cultural Issues:  Cultural norms may add a layer of challenge to getting dressed. For example, a female caregiver for a male from South Asia struggled to care for him when he lost his ability to put on or take off his own shoes or socks due to nerve damage. This was due to cultural prohibitions around the touching of feet.

Sensory Issues: For those with sensory sensitivities, particularly those on the autism spectrum, fabric texture, elastic, fasteners, seams, tags and zippers may present challenges.

Adaptive clothing is designed with function in mind, and provides easy access to body parts without removing the entire garment, and makes it easier to change or remove clothing. With adaptive clothing, a person with a disability can retain dignity, provide some level of self-care, and have a sense of personal style. It can include:
  • Wrap around skirts
  • Velcro on shoes
  • Front-closing bras
  • Side-opening pants
  • Tagless labeled clothing
  • Open back clothing
  • Zippers located in the front of clothing
  • Velcro or snap closures rather than buttons
  • Designs which allow a person to get dressed from a seated position

This cool website allows users to reach nearly 400 products using custom search criteria tailored to assistive and educational technologies. The site includes research on the theory and practice in the use of AT.
Teens Succeeding with Technology (TeST)
is a model program from Minnesota being used with at-risk youth and those in corrections. The four-part self-paced video training program, funded by a Carl D. Perkins grant, incorporates innovative, web-based technologies and resources to help high school students with disabilities transition to post-secondary education and careers. Through online trainings and activities, such as: e-mentoring, resource mapping, creation of a personal transition plan, and a virtual college campus tour, students can explore post-secondary options with an emphasis on technical careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.
When the Technology Is Not Accessible
The Internet, and information and communication technology (ICT) play an important role in employment. As such, the federal government recognizes that access to information and electronic technologies is a civil right and a vital employment issue for individuals with disabilities. In fact, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken the position that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers Internet website access, mobile applications, and other forms of ICT.

Learn More >> 
Tech Standards
What Should Web Developers Consider?
For those who cannot see well - the colors and the contrast between colors; the size of text; the choice of fonts; 

For those who are blind - how a viewer interprets the elements on a page (for example, alt tags for images, and title tags for links); the inclusion of audio description for video content; 

For those who cannot hear well - how any audio content is represented graphically (for example, including subtitles or signing on video content); 

For those who find the keyboard or mouse hard to use - the ease with which someone can navigate to parts of the page (for instance, by tabbing); auto-completion of forms; 

For those who find words and reading difficult - the length of sentences and paragraphs; the complexity of the vocabulary; the choice of fonts and size of text; the availability of spelling checkers and word prediction; the opportunity to have text read out loud.

Do you or one of your students need help with a website?

We LOVE this feature of the BBC website, called My web my way, that offers users advice on how to make the web easier to use:
Digital Age Learning
In theory, technology can be a door opener for many students with disabilities, but it is not a panacea. Digital technology, like other technologies in school may have advantages, but they have limits as well.

Poorly conceived tools: The usefulness of digital tools depends on their design, which must provide both broad access and learning supports. Poorly conceived digital learning tools give the illusion of progress when in fact they simply replicate print versions; this is the case when scanning a printed document into a digital version.

The digital divide: Many families still lack access to essential technology. According to a Pew Research Center report, 87 percent of U.S. households making more than $75,000 a year have Internet access at home, compared with only 40 percent of households making less than $30,000 a year.

Cost: New media can be expensive, especially when modernizing the technological infrastructure of entire schools or districts. The short-term cost can be daunting, despite the long-term costs of not implementing change - creating a generation of high school graduates unprepared for college and careers.

Professional development: Simply acquiring technology does not make learning student-centered. Teachers must be trained how to use new media to support student learning.

Social connections: Technologies are not good at the "emotional work" of the classroom, which is ultimately about building and enhancing relationships. Computers and online tools and programs are not equipped to do this profoundly human work. That responsibility lies in the hands, hearts, and minds of teachers.

Upcoming Webinars and Training

Webinar: The Do's and Don'ts of Disability Disclosure

January 10, 2017, 2:30 PM EST

More information and registration >>

As transition approaches, youth with disabilities will need to learn how to talk about how disability affects them, and be able to get accommodations in higher education, housing, and employment.  Disability disclosure is rarely taught or even discussed before adulthood. This webinar will provide PowerPoints, toolkits, and handouts for youth and families about disclosure.  It will also include important "Train-the-Trainer" information.

The webinar will feature Jennifer Thomas, Youth Development Specialist for the Institute for Educational Leadership, an organization that has championed the need for leaders at all levels to shake off their institutional constraints and work across boundaries to address the needs of young people and their families. Need the info right away?

Technology Considerations and Assessment for Secondary Students, hosted by the Center on Technology and Disability

February 16, 2017, 4:00 PM EST

How do educators work to determine which tools and strategies a student might require in order to ensure a free appropriate public education (FAPE)? When it comes to the selection of technology, there are often numerous options that might be put into place.